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Top Venezuela Court Blocks Self-declared President From Leaving Country

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Venezuela's top court ordered self-declared president Juan Guaido not to leave the country, and froze his bank accounts.

The move by Supreme Tribunal of Justice, loyal to President Nicolas Maduro's authoritarian regime, came shortly after the US Government handed control of Venezuela's bank accounts in the United States to Guaido, the opposition leader whom Washington has recognized as interim president.

In line with Attorney General's advice,Tribunal President Maikel Moreno said Guaido is prohibited from leaving the country until the end of the preliminary investigation for having "caused harm to peace in the republic".

At least 40 people were killed and hundreds arrested when Maduro's forces tried to suppress massive opposition-backed demonstrations against the President last week.

Guaido declared himself Venezuela's interim president.

Venezuela cut diplomatic ties with the US and expelled its diplomats in retaliation to Washington recognizing him.

On Tuesday, a day after the US Treasury imposed sanctions on Venezuela's state-owned oil and natural gas company, the State Department handed control of Venezuelan assets in US banks to Guaido.

"Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo certified the authority of Venezuela's interim President Juan Guaido to receive and control certain property in accounts of the Government of Venezuela or Central Bank of Venezuela held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or any other U.S. insured banks, in accordance with Section 25B of the Federal Reserve Act," said a statement by Robert Palladino, State Department Deputy Spokesperson.

He believes this certification will help Venezuela's government safeguard those assets for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.

The Trump administration called on other governments to recognize Juan Guaido and take similar steps "to protect Venezuela's patrimony from further theft by Maduro's corrupt regime".

More than 20 governments have pledged their support to Guaido.

The European Union wants Maduro to call elections, while Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain went one step further by warning of military action unless elections are declared by February 3.

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